Career advice

How to write a graduate cover letter

Many employers request a cover letter along with your CV. This is your opportunity to really show off your skills and enthusiasm for the role. Graduate recruiters often spend more time looking at a graduate’s cover letter than their CV, as they know their work experience will be limited.
You can afford to show a bit of personality in your cover letter. Let the employer know why you want to work for them and why you think you would make a great candidate for their role. The chances for this are limited on your CV so make the most of this opening dialogue. Here are a few pointers on how to write a graduate cover letter:
  • Whether a cover letter for a job application or a speculative letter, always write it in formal letter format – you’re not just dropping them a note
  • Address the person handling the job – if the job ad doesn’t state a contact then use ‘Dear sir/madam’
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat some of what’s in your CV – if your skills are relevant then reiterate them
  • Always tailor your cover letter to the role and company you’re applying for
  • Keep it brief – highlight relevant skills and state your career objective (if it aligns with the type of role you’re applying for)
  • Talk about the company to show you’ve done your research
  • End by politely expressing your interest in further dialogue with the hiring manager
Don’t forget, the letter should be well written and clear. Get someone to proofread it for you; a second pair of eyes is always useful. Your letter is a reflection of you and if a hiring manager can’t understand your message, they’re unlikely to be impressed.